[OUTLOOK]Now a message from Mr. RohIf I were President Roh’s speechwriter...
My fellow Koreans, you have not heard much about me since my impeachment. Exercising my freedom of speech tends to get me into trouble, but you probably would like to know how I’ve been doing and what I’ve been thinking about.
I don’t believe I can be impeached again while I’m already impeached, but I won’t take the chance and talk to you about those National Assembly you-know-whats on April 15.
Theoretically I’m the country’s top politician, but as you know it’s against the law for me to talk about politics. When you stop and think about it, what harm would it do? After all, what I think just comes down to my opinion. You can take it or leave it. We all spend enough on education so you can be trusted to make up your own mind.
But let me stop there and keep from getting myself worked up. What you need to know is that I’ve had a great time relaxing with my wife the last few weeks. The food’s good, and I don’t get up so early anymore, or for that matter go to bed so late. Monday, on the holiday, we planted a tree and had our photo taken, just like any other family. We’ve also been hiking a good deal on the mountain paths in back of the Blue House. I had forgotten how great it is to simply savor the beauty of the cherry blossoms.
If you’re going be impeached, spring is the best time by far.
You know, it’s tough opening the newspapers in the morning and seeing photos of my friend Goh Kun having all the fun. Believe it or not, I used to enjoy doing stuff like meeting the young graduates at our military academies. Important diplomats once came around to see me. We’d talk about golf, our favorite courses. I miss that. I saw a photo of Mr. Goh meeting some European ambassadors. The ink had hardly dried on the impeachment documents. I’ll keep that in mind when I get back in action.
And to be honest, it was irritating not to be able to send off the first bullet train from Seoul last week. Mr. Goh handled that pretty well, though. The few staff members still around here dissuaded me from hopping the train and going down to Busan to see some friends. It would have been fun, but they said the National Election Commission might think I was playing politics again by riding a train.
Still it would be better than the time I spent worrying about sending troops to Iraq or the nuclear talks with the North. That can wear you down.
I got a laugh out of hearing that Kim Jong-il is really worried and that he thinks we’re falling apart here in the South. He doesn’t get it. This is democracy at work. I mean it took the United States almost 80 years to impeach its first president, but look at us. It’s just another way to catch up. It’s not so bad. Kim should try it.
Forgive me, I didn’t mean to start talking about my impeachment again.
You may be interested in what’s on my reading list. There’s been some talk about biographies of Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister who was never impeached. Or U.S. President Andrew Jackson. Like me, he was an outsider, but again he was never impeached.
The truth is the books were pretty boring, especially when you’ve had a chance to hang out with Bill Clinton, a president who, like me, was impeached. He seemed fine. Nothing holds him back. So, don’t think I’m depressed.
By the way, I was especially happy to see that another American is coming to town. Dick Cheney, the U.S. vice president and the chief neo-con, will be in Seoul next week. I won’t get to meet him of course, but I’m still glad he’ll be here. The big surprise is he’s coming on Election Day. Just for that he qualifies as an honorary member of Nosamo. Between us, I think the party I can’t mention will pick up a few more you-know-whats in the Assembly thanks to Mr. Cheney’s visit.
But let me talk about my feelings. Most people think politicians are thick-skinned, that criticism just bounces off. That’s not true. As you can probably tell, the impeachment chafes, but I don’t feel half as impeached as Choe Byung-yul does, I bet. Look who replaced him as head of Grand National Party. That must hurt.
People know me as a reformist and a progressive, but my enemies have outdone me this time. At the GNP, Park Chung Hee’s daughter, Geun-hye, is serious competition. Courtesy is the key now with so many women in politics. I will invite her to a candlelight dinner after the you-know-whats. But the old boys are smart, too; if the GNP loses big time, then they can blame it on the women.
Well, it’s been fun, and those are my plans. The whole experience has taught me a great lesson. Everyone needs a break to take your mind off things, even if it’s for an impeachment.
* The writer is the editor of the JoongAng Daily.
by Charles D. Sherman